I am reading an incredible book by Ellen Meloy, who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 58. Her death is rather inexplicable, in light of her healthy, natural life, and, so it is. She has left us her books. I am entranced with her book, The Anthropology of Turquoice, Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit. Here are some excerpts to entice you into the rivers and canyonlands of the southwest.
I excerpt from her chapter on the Deeds and Sufferings of Light as brought forth by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who said, "Colours are the deeds and sufferings of light."
The Russian painter Vasily Kandinsky in his 1912 meditation, On the Spiritual in Art, wrote that "Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers." He said, "The power of profound meaning is blue. Blue is concentric motion." "Red rings inwardly with a determined and powerful intensity. It glows in itself, maturely, and does not distribute its vigor aimlessly."
I once wrote a poem about the blue of certainty. It is called The Blue House. I understood that blue is certainty. This book confirms that for me.
Meloy says, "Colors are not possessions; they are the intimate revelations of an energy field."
"Imagine that you have no eyes and this is how you must organize your perceptual life: by physical contact. You sneak or crawl or ooze over objects in your path, perhaps crash into them or knock them over. You stick out an advance appendage to fondle your terrain, hoping to come across something edible or matable or both. You might slip your appendage up and over the face of a cold, flat, steel plain and only seconds after severing that limb with a bloody spurt think "razor blade."
If you and your kind survive bruised foreheads, amputation, and impalement, particular cells may grow somewhere on your body surface, cells that become sensitive to light. Rather than form an image, the cells merely discern brightness from dimness. If, when these cells gather, your skin cups slightly, in a sort of lenslike curve, and if the cells form rudimentary pigments, the cells will capture some of the light. Your nerves may translate this trapped light into information, perhaps distinguishing between something bright versus a shadow, say the shadow of a giant killer hyena, and with your sensory awareness by remote rather than physical contact, you might have a few seconds to flee before the hyena eats you. At this point, the pigments, photoreceptive cells, cups, and nerve impulses, already vastly complex millions of years before they become eyes, are moving along the dense evolutionary path toward vision - toward color vision - as we know it.
When someone says they feel color, the serene caress of jade or the acidic bite of yellow, do not accuse them of using illegal drugs. In primitive life forms the eye began as a light-sensitive depression in the skin; the sense of sight likely evolved from the sense of touch.
The complex human eye harvests light."
"It has been shown that the words for colors enter evolving languages in this order, nearly universally: black, white, and red, then yellow and green (in either order), with green covering blue until blue comes into itself. Once blue is acquired, it eclipses green."
"Until synthetic chemistry reproduced it, purple was among the rarest of dyes, a liqueur squeezed from the veins of a small mollusk. One mollusk yielded one drop; extracting a single ounce of the dye sacrificed 250,000 mollusks."
Can you ever see color quite the same again? Revel in it. I have read that looking at computer screens, is reducing our abilities to differentiate colors. See how many greens and blues can magnify in your life today. Feel and see the "deeds and sufferings of light." Revel in the evolution of your genes.